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John McCain's death greeted with sadness by former colleagues in ND, Minn.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks during a hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Andrew Harrer

FARGO — News of Sen. John McCain's death was met with sadness by his colleagues from North Dakota and Minnesota Saturday, Aug. 25.

"My thoughts are with Cindy, Roberta, and John's entire family as we remember the gift of his remarkable life and his commitment to the idea that strong character, when used to serve others, is the highest human pursuit," Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said in a statement, referring to McCain's wife and mother respectively.

She said she had gotten to know Sen. McCain, R-Ariz., through her friendship with Cindy McCain and her work with him on American Indian issues.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Rep. Kevin Cramer also expressed their condolences to the McCain family in separate statements.

"John was a colleague, and he was also my friend," Hoeven said. "Few have demonstrated his level of commitment to this country, through his bravery in the armed forces and his long tenure in Congress. We join with his loved ones and the nation in mourning his passing and honoring his memory."

"Senator McCain was a true American hero, and I join many in remembering his selfless service to our country," Cramer said.

McCain has served in Congress for more than three decades and ran twice for president, gaining a reputation as a maverick who didn't always go along with his party. A naval aviator during the Vietnam War, he's also well known as a former prisoner of war.

He died of brain cancer a day after announcing he would stop treatment.

Minnesota members of Congress also expressed their condolences Saturday.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said in a statement: "I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of my friend and colleague, Senator John McCain. In the Navy, he exemplified heroism and bravery. In the Senate, he was a mentor to so many senators: he taught us how to work with leaders on the world stage, and he taught us how to work with each other regardless of party back at home."

She said she'd visited him at his ranch last month and remembered him telling her something important. "He pointed to a sentence in his new book and told me 'that's all that matters.' The sentence was this: 'Nothing in life is more liberating than to fight for a cause larger than yourself.'"

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum called McCain "a true American hero, patriot and statesman" in a statement. "From his decorated military career to his highly principled service in the U.S. Senate, he was the embodiment of courage, honor and service to one's country. Kathryn and I join a grateful nation in keeping his wife, Cindy, and the entire McCain family in our thoughts and prayers."